back to article 100s to be contacted in re-opened NotW hacking case

Hundreds of people whose voicemails might have been intercepted in an illegal trawl for celebrity gossip by the News of the World are likely to be contacted by police as part of a re-opened investigation into the long-running scandal. An initial investigation back in 2005 blamed a rogue reporter at the Sunday tabloid and the …


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  1. JimmyPage

    The real scandal here

    is why it has taken a *newspaper* many years to prompt police action.

  2. RichyS

    Does anyone really care that much

    You'd have thought from the reporting in the media and the ongoing bleating from various (former) politicians (especially the buffet worrrying one) that this was the biggest scandal and most devious and technically advanced hacking to date.

    It wasn't.

    A few politicians and minor 'celebrities' failed to change their default voicemail PIN. Woo fecking hoo.

    I'd have more sympathy for the likes of Tubby Prescott if he wasn't part of a government trying to monitor the entire bloody countries telecommunications. Don't like it so much now, do you John? Well, if you;ve got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Its a little more complex than that

      Allegedly, people were selling confidential celeb phone numbers to the private investigators involved in this scam, and customer services staff at operators like Vodafone have been mentioned as a source of confidential PIN numbers.


      But even if people didn't change their PINs, or their numbers were well known... that still doesn't excuse the behaviour of the people involved in this scam.

    2. Catkins

      Not just celebs and pols

      Whilst my sympathy for those politicans who cracked down on personal privacy is extremely limited, the case is not as straightforward as you think.

      It wasn't just celebrities who were targetted. Victims of serious crime such as rape were also hacked by journos looking for gossip. So were potential witnesses. People with pretty innocuous jobs, such as PAs and accountants were also hacked, leading to at least one blameless person losing their job. When it came to people in the public eye their families, friends, and in some cases children also had their voicemail intercepted.

      Yes, some people didn't change their default PIN. Many did, and somehow the press still accessed their voicemails.

      Just because some of the loudest bleaters aren't exactly the greatest defenders of civil liberties we shouldn't ignore the extent of this scandal.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Proportionate response?

    Is this getting serious and costly police attention because it's a serious crime that causes a lot of harm, or because a lot of rich, famous and media savvy people were embarrassed?

    Why was the hacking possible? Poor security by the phone companise or stupidity by the users?

    Personally I'm more concerned about Joe Public who has their actual home broken into.

    1. Naughtyhorse

      so which newspaper do you work for?

      Considering the outragous (totally unaccountable) power held by the press, and the arrogant way in which they knobbled the the police & politicians and bought off the celebs. I think this is a pretty important case.

      We elect politicians to 'manage' the country (yeah they used to have leadership, but thats a different rant :D) in OUR interest. So how many times has our interest been sidelined but some grubby little journo threatening to dish the dirt on a particular MP, or in some cases wrecking their careers to pursue the newspapers agenda? Or to put it another way, how many times did our agenda even get a look in?

      The tale about some kind of matey quid pro quo twixt the met and Fleet st. stinks too. if Fleet st. knew what the cabinet was up to do you REALLY think they would not have a file stashed away detailing the predilicitions/lodge membership details/financial ins and outs of a bunch of met plods too?

      It's exactly the same deal that allowed hoover to have a stranglehold on the 'land of the free' for 50 years. and you think some dickhead nicking nextdoors playstation is a bigger deal?


      This is supposed to be a democracy after all,

      you know 1 man one vote,

      i just think that one man should not be rupert fucking murdoch

    2. Jim Morrow
      IT Angle

      apply clue above

      FFS! It's getting attention because the whole thing stinks.

      The News of the Screws has been caught hacking voicemail. They've lied about it too: remember their "one bad apple" defence?. Their top management may be facing perjury charges:. Ex editor Coulson twice said on oath he knew nothing of the hacking. News International told a House of Commons committee they pay police for information. That's illegal as well. Though the other tabloids are probably just as guilty of all of that. Check out the edition of Dispatches that went out on Channel 4 the other day.

      When the first complaints were made a few years ago, the Met did a half-assed job of investigating. So only Mulcaire and Goodman got charged and convicted. The cop in charge of that investigation retired to take a job as a columnist on the News of the Screws. Perhaps that was just a coincidence.

      When the investigation was re-opened screeds of "new information" emerged. Like Fatty Prescott being a victim. You might also think the police would have shown some interest then in violations of the Deputy Prime Minister's privacy, even if it was Prescott. Other MPs have been misled by the Met. Until the "new evidence" emerged. So the relationship between the press and the police needs to be looked at as well as how that initial Met investigation was carried out.

      There is some serious shit going on here. It looks like a powerful newspaper group are able to influence police investigations into serious offences by their employees. I think that's far, far more disturbing than who nicks Joe Public's DVD player.

      BTW social engineering and backhanders to phone company employees have been used to get access to voicemail and other private details: call records, billing info, etc. This has gone on for ever. So even if a celeb or fuckwit politician has taken reasonable precautions, they could still have had their privacy invaded. And not just for phone company data.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Run that past me again

    A few people are considered suitable for jobs in sensitive areas - like governing the rest of us, yet don't even have the nonce to manage their own passwords effectively!

    What the feck are they doing in that kind of job? Can we recruit a few chimpanzees?

    They might even show a bit of integrity as well as some higher intelligence.

  5. Anonymous Coward


    Should there not have been people that advise these high profile to change their voicemail passwords? Surely the government and the royal family who have been hit by these hacks should have security advisors. These people should be sacked for not giving appropriate advice.

    This is not wiretapping. Its dialling their mobile number, hitting * or # or whatever to access the voicemail and entering 0000 as the pin because the people have not changed their passwords. Wiretapping is something else entirely.

  6. umacf24

    Real reason police wanted to hush it up

    They are just embarrassed that no-one on the St James' Palace security team -- plods to a man -- thought to ask the princes to change their voicemail passwords!

    Amazing how much we pay for this when you consider the quality we get. These are the people who routed the Prince of Wales through an anarchist riot.

  7. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

    Why is it worth it?

    It's illegal, it's apparently on a massive scale and it was condoned at the highest level of a large organization that has an unsavoury record of meddling in other peoples private lives. If you came home to find the News Of The World rooting through your underwear drawer, the fact you'd accidentally left your front door open wouldn't make it less outrageous.

    Likewise if this had been done by the Met Police (who also arguably fit that description) you'd be up in arms, and rightly so.

    Tip o' the hat to the Grauniad for their tenacity in chasing this one down, and a massive shitty brickbat for the Met, who have come out of this smelling strongly of NewsCorp.

  8. lostinspace

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    I blame the phone companies. Voicemail should be secure automatically. There should not _be_ any default PIN number. I think it is totally understandable that people didn't realise there was a PIN number set to defaults that needs changing. I just took out a new phone contract and nothing was mentioned about this at all. A random PIN can easily be sent in a text message to the phone when voicemail is first accessed.

    I access my voicemail using my mobile which lets me straight in. If I lost my mobile then sure, voicemail is vunerable but I wouldn't expect anyone to be able to access it without my mobile.

    The phone companies seem to have got away lightly with this, but they deserve a massive bollocking for enabling this to happen in the first place. It's their fault, not the mobile users.

    1. Andrew Woodvine

      Default PINs are not the issue!

      You cannot access your voicemail from another phone, regardless of what network you're on, until you've changed the PIN from the default.

  9. Paul 172

    If the PIN wasn't bought from Voda staff...

    given the fact that the voicemail systems hardly ever are set to do intruder lockout, it would be a fairly simple excercise to brute-force the PIN. For example say you can try 3 PINS per minute as a low estimate, you have a keyspace of 10,000 which means that you can expect to crack any PIN in 55.5 Hours at a maximum or crack 50% of pins in half that time, etc.

    Not particularly difficult to do given the nCorrect response can be checked for using some waveform matching routine, making this an almost entirely automated hack once initiated.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    "Tabloids' Dirty Secrets"

    Funny how the met are suddenly releasing more information just after being slammed by Channel 4's Dispatches programme.

    There's a lot more to this story than just a few answer phone messages.

    I suggest that anyone who thinks this is a trivial matter and isn't a newspaper shill should watch the documentary before commenting.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    "a columnist on the News of the Screws."

    "The cop in charge of that investigation retired to take a job as a columnist on the News of the Screws."

    Close, but not 100% accurate.

    After a few months paid pre-retirement leave in the police, Andy Hayman took up employment at The Times, not the NotW. Both Murdoch organisations, obviously. Maybe parts of the Met should be classed as a Murdoch organisation too; Rebekah Wade/Brooks (NotW editor) has admitted paying police for info.

    "There's a lot more to this story than just a few answer phone messages."

    Too right. Norfolk'n'Goode? Norfolk is where he used to be Chief Constable. Something you think readers need to know?

    He's also been top anti-terror specialist at ACPO Ltd (that's the Association of Chief Police Officers unaccountable outfit which has recently been in much of the press for the way their undercover anti-terror operatives have expensively and uselessly infiltrated legitimate peaceful protest organisations). contains links to verifiable sources.

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